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Renting an apartment in the United Kingdom: knowing your rights and obligations

A topic that I am sure will be of great interest to you, namely rentals in the United Kingdom.

It is not an easy matter to have to leave your country, your family, try to find a job, learn (or improve) your English, and find a place to live, which is why I am offering you as much help as possible by informing you about housing.

Whether you have rented a house, apartment, room or studio, this information will help you whatever your circumstances.

The main problems that occur for any property are repairs, the return of the deposit, the increase in the price of the rent, the illegality of the contract (or even its non-existence) or the fact that your house is particularly strange.

So what can one do to avoid these problems or to solve them directly?

First of all, start by telling yourself that the law in the United Kingdom makes the procedures to be followed in both cases very clear, so you should not have any major problems.

So, here is everything you need to know.

About the tenancy agreement:

Since April 6, 2007, the TDP (Tenancy Deposit Scheme) provides that the owner of the property must secure the deposit and keep it safe. In this way, he cannot spend it and once the contract is signed, he is required to inform you within 30 days as to how he has secured it.

If he has not fulfilled that part of his duty as a landlord, you can complain to the nearest court, and although it costs you money, the judge could force him to pay you three times the value of the bond, so that it is worthwhile. However, in some cases, the owner will also have the right to keep a part of the deposit from you.

About repairs and troubleshooting:

In theory, the accommodation must be in perfect condition for rental, but the reality is often quite different.

As a landlord, you may go crazy if your tenant tells you that the water tank is leaking, there are traces of damp, the heating is not working and you will get pneumonia or the tub is not fit for purpose.

However, the government does not tolerate this behaviour, and makes it very clear that landlords are liable for any damage to the dwelling (at least that which has not been caused by you).

More specifically, the landlord must be responsible for: the exterior structure, baths, sinks, toilets, piping, drainage, heating, boilers, hot water, gas installations, ventilation, electrical system and all related matters, in addition to any damage that has been caused by renovations carried out by the owner.

Of course, you should bear in mind that if you as the tenant undertake a renovation without the owner's approval, you will have to cover the costs in full.

You should also know that in event of emergency, you have the right to call in the authority responsible for water, gas, etc.all the while keeping the owner informed of developments and the total cost. Under current laws, if adequate maintenance work has not been carried out at the property, the owner is obliged to inform you of the amount and deduct it from the rent.

What if your landlord refuses to pay?

Firstly, you should keep him/her constantly informed of matters as they evolve, and if he/she continues, threaten to notify the nearest town hall or equivalent legal administration.

Your landlord continues to ignore what you are saying? In this case, pay a visit to your local town hall, ask for information on the extent of repairs required, you can undertake them and insist that they be deducted from your rent, or decide not to do them and ask that they be deducted from the rent.

Still no resolution? Well, use legal recourse. You may also be interested to know that if you have fallen ill (e.g. flu or cold) as a result of problems at the property (e.g. heating) and you let it be known, your landlord may be fined up to £5000.

Incidents caused by the owner:

An English law of 1977 clearly states that harassment by the landlord is considered as such if he "acts in such a way that it may disturb the tranquillity and/or comfort of the tenant or any person living with him.

In truth this kind of case is very difficult to prove at a judicial level, but anyway, there follows a list of things that your landlord may not do:

  • He or she does not have the right to enter the property, whether or not you are there, unless he or she has given you at least one day's notice

  • He is not allowed to bring in other tenants without first notifying you.

  • Discrimination is prohibited on the part of the landlord, rendered even more serious on racial, sexual or religious grounds.

  • He or she does not have the authority to ask you to waive your rights as a tenant. This can be denounced, or even worse.

  • He cannot refuse entry to someone else under the title of "guest". He is your guest, and the landlord may say nothing about this..

  • Needless to say, he may not open your mail. This is your private property and breaching this provision may lead to a substantial fine being imposed..

  • If you want to claim something in court, you should first consider collecting evidence to make your case stronger and easier to prove.

When leaving the accommodation....

This is often where the problems begin.

One must realize that there are some very bad people in this world, and if you had problems during the contract period with your landlord, when you leave, he probably won't make things any easier.

What could the owner do to bother you? Well, he could increase your rent so that you would be no longer in a position to pay, he could also refuse to renew the tenancy agreement or  worse still in my view, reject the housing references.

As you can now see, In Great Britain you will be asked for references for absolutely everything, and even more so for rent. This could cause you problems in finding a new home to your taste, and in response to this request from the landlord it is clear that the collection of rent is not guaranteed for him, because it is your word against his.

In any case, if you see that you are really going to have problems of this nature, you should approach a real estate agency or the town hall to ask for advice on short-term contracts. They will certainly give you good advice.

Want to know more about your rights as a tenant or landlord? Click on this link to find out more.